How do I add luxury to my backyard? 7 expert recommendations

Create a luxurious and beautiful backyard for year round enjoyment with these expert ideas

outdoor fireplace and seating in a garden with evergreen planting
(Image credit: Kate Gould Design / Photo Helen Fickling)

There are many ways to add luxury to a backyard, the best offering clever ways to blur the lines between indoors and out, offering you an inviting space to spend time in, year round.

Combining modern lifestyle demands with luxurious and beautiful backyard ideas takes thought and effort. But it's worth taking the time to plan a garden so that the result is a space that you can enjoy 365 days a year – and adding luxury elements is key to achieving this end.

A backyard can work on so many different levels and clever luxury design choices can marry up with lifestyle needs. 'Creating a space to be in for 24 hours a day / 7 days a week is hard work, but with the inclusion of some elements to make your design and plants shine it can revolutionize the way you live,' says award-winning garden designer Kate Gould (opens in new tab).

lan outdoor fireplace and seating area for luxury in a backyard

(Image credit: Kate Gould Designs / Photo Helen Fickling)

How do I add luxury to my backyard?

If you're wondering how to add luxury to your backyard, the answer is to include smart design elements that look aesthetically pleasing but which also allow you toenjoy it to relax, exercise, entertain and eat in year round. 

'People are thinking outside the box in terms of what they want their backyards to deliver when it comes to outdoor living, and they are often not sure how to achieve this within a traditional design model,' explains Kate Gould. 'But people don't need to choose between having functional spaces and a beautiful garden. It doesn't need to be an either/or choice.'

1. Bring indoor elements outside

decorative pergola and outdoor seating

(Image credit: Kate Gould Design / Helen Fickling)

'Consider all the essential elements of a luxurious home and put outdoor equivalents,' to add luxury to your backyard, explains Kate. 

There are many elements you could add, but Kate mentions outdoor fireplace ideas for warmth, and planning an outdoor kitchen with a cooking island and a sink. Be sure to include comfortable, all weather furniture – there are many options for gardens of all styles from the best outdoor furniture stores, and if you have the space, a bioclimatic pergola idea to shelter under. 

2. Go bold with statement items

large corten steel planter and hanging seat in luxurious garden area

(Image credit: Kate Gould Designs / Photo Helen Flickling)

Don’t be afraid of being bold if you are wondering how to add luxury to your backyard. Statement planting will max the feeling of luxury in the space.

'Large things in small spaces work far better than lots of little things and make the maintenance of the garden much easier. Statement planter box ideas or containers with bold evergreen plants add drama and can be lit at night to create beautiful living sculptures. If you can place them near a wall, you will also cast shadows to add a sense of magic and mystery to your scheme,' says Kate. 

3. Set the luxury tone with landscaping materials

Backyard landscaping ideas

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Novogratz)

The decisions you make when selecting materials for your backyard will set the tone for its overall luxurious effect. 

'There are many ways to look at luxury in a backyard: flagstone terraces surrounded by roses, lavender and scented plants have charm and elegance for a quintessential English garden idea,' says Kate.

Whereas for a modern aesthetic with backyard landscaping ideas, 'crisp cut sandstone or limestone slabs laid with an emphasis on clean lines and minimalism, surrounded by topiary and feature evergreens might need nothing more than a pair of sculptural loungers as accents. Design is all about how you want to live. That will drive the theme of the space you are creating,' Kate adds. 

4. Combine clever design and functionality

garden swim spa recessed in wooden decking

(Image credit: RHS / Sarah Cuttle)

Combine beautiful design and clever functionality. 'If you want a swim spa for exercise and pampering, a space for yoga or meditation, or an outside shower, you don’t need to choose between having that and a beautiful garden. Have a swim spa, but make it chic,' says Kate.

This show garden design (above) by Kate demonstrates clever garden zoning and features a swim spa as a pool idea for exercising, cleverly recessed within the gardens’ natural wood decking, climbing bars, spaces for seating and relaxation, a yoga/meditation space and shower, all elegantly situated among dramatic and exotic, tropical garden ideas. The overall look and feel is architectural, contemporary in its minimalism and high-end.

'There is something about being in a space which feels luxurious which is safe and nurturing and I think we all need to feel that now,' says Kate.

5. Add a focal feature

sleek water feature, pale paving and lit steps in a luxury garden desiign

(Image credit: Kate Gould Design / Nicola Stocken)

To make your backyard design shine, add decorative elements that raise it onto another level.

'Bold, sleek water feature ideas can look incredibly elegant and add movement in a space that is perhaps more hard landscaping than soft,' says Kate. 'Stepping stones floating over the surface create an illusion of walking on water – and although they appear deceptively simple are not something to be undertaken without expert help. Surround your water with bold marginal plants or simple clipped hedging for an element that reflects the sky and creates a beautiful effect all year round.' 

The epitome of luxury, yard art ideas will also enhance a scheme. 'This will have the ability to provide a sense of calm as well as drama, depending on the design ethos. Place the piece – or pieces – to draw the eye and be sure they have lighting to bring them to life at night,' Kate adds.

6. Choose lush and luxurious planting

palms and lush tropical planting beside stone seats and gravel and slab garden path

(Image credit: RHS / Sarah Cuttle)

When considering how to add luxury to a backyard, carefully chosen planting can add immensely to the feel and overall look. 

For flower bed ideas, 'long, billowing herbaceous borders packed with summer perennials and accentuated with topiary are extremely elegant. They are high maintenance, though, so aren’t for those who are time pressured. 

'Swathes of lush, sculptural palms and tropicals can lend a garden an exotic, luxurious look,' explains Kate. 'For smaller spaces, such as a courtyard garden, larger statement plants work best visually,' she adds.

In the design by Kate above, swathes of lush, tropical plants help create a sanctuary, their large branch span contributing to a garden’s hideaway feel.

Formal gardens are much more static in feel. Here it is all about evergreen form and texture. 'These are gardens that tend to look best implemented at a mature size for impact. A predominantly green planting palette can be uplifting in every season, and choose plants which have different structures and shapes to add texture,' says Kate.

If you have a hot, dry, sheltered site, consider statement architectural planting such as palm trees. 'Here, you can create bold shapes with space between them to appreciate their beauty. Many of these plants have grey/ blue leaf coloring, which leans to a muted palette.'

7. Include lighting

lush tropical planting and lighting in a small courtyard garden

(Image credit: Kate Gould Designs / Photo Nicola Stocken)

Outdoor lighting ideas are crucial for adding luxury to a backyard that can be enjoyed day and night.

'Lighting doesn’t just have to be light. There are so many options to choose that are sculptural as well, from decorative pendants to bold ground mounted lights and playful approaches to lighting through airy planting schemes. Use warm white to create a soft and inviting glow,' says Kate. 

How do you build a luxury patio?

To build a luxury patio, you needn't rely on very expensive materials, though a beautiful stone will make it feel more special. The key, though, to making it feel luxurious is to ensure that the planting around it is smart, elegant and well kept; that the seating or dining furniture you put on it is sleek and inviting, and that it is well-lit at night, with soft lighting around seating or dining areas, and uplighters to highlight architectural planting.

How do you create a luxury backyard on a budget?

All of these elements might lead you to think you should engage the services of a landscaper. You can of course find out how much a garden designer costs and then balance that expenditure with the benefits you will get from a perfectly designed and useable outdoor space that will enhance your lifestyle. However, there are elements of luxury backyard design that you can recreate on a budget. These include buying younger, smaller plants that will be cheaper to buy but grow quickly to full-size; working with the landscape and layout that you have now rather than implementing labor-heavy changes, and spending time designing one attention-seeking focal point, such as a seating area, that draws the eye. 

Rachel is senior content editor, and writes and commissions gardening content for homesandgardens.com, Homes & Gardens magazine, and its sister titles Period Living Magazine and Country Homes & Interiors. She has written for lifestyle magazines for many years, with a particular focus on gardening, historic houses and arts and crafts, but started out her journalism career in BBC radio, where she enjoyed reporting on and writing programme scripts for all manner of stories. Rachel then moved into regional lifestyle magazines, where the topics she wrote about, and people she interviewed, were as varied and eclectic as they were on radio. Always harboring a passion for homes and gardens, she jumped at the opportunity to work on The English Home and The English Garden magazines for a number of years, before joining the Period Living team, then the wider Homes & Gardens team, specializing in gardens.